Lemon Cake (No Baking Powder, No Baking Soda)

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A summer party or a picnic is incomplete without some cake. Agree? What can be better than a perfect spongy, lemony yet sweet and refreshing lemon cake? This Lemon Cake without Leavening Agent, that is without any baking powder or baking soda, is very light and can be assembled within 15 minutes and is definitely a crowd-pleaser.

Lemon Cake without Leavening Agent (No Baking Powder, No Baking Soda)

One of our family favorites now. I actually never made a lemon cake earlier. I thought the tangy lemon taste will not be liked by my family. But I was surprised. My family wants more of this Lemon Cake.

My son a hardcore chocolate cake lover like me now loves this lemon cake. And he is correct, the cake leaves your palate with a lovely lemony, sweet and a refreshing taste. The tangy and the sweet combination is just awesome and you keep craving for more. You really need to stop yourself from eating too much.

So surprised how a cake is made without a leavening agent and how it looks so soft and moist? Read on further to understand better.

The picture speaks for itself and believe me the cake is really soft and all that color is natural. The lemon and the eggs work their magic. I have not added a drop of any artificial color.

Lemon Cake (No Baking Powder, No Baking Soda)


The key ingredient for the rise of this Lemon cake without Leavening Agent is egg and there is no replacement of the same in this recipe. Eggs have a great ability to leaven or puff up foods when air is beaten to them. When you are beating eggs with a whisker or an electric mixer you are simply incorporating air into the mixture.

When you beat an egg in any mixture you would see that increases in volume. Egg whites are specially used for this purpose and egg whites expand up to 8 times their volume. Hence you can see that Soufflé, meringues all use egg whites especially for this purpose. There is some science that when air is incorporated into the protein molecules it unwinds and stretches.

Tip with Respect to Eggs

  • If you are storing your eggs in the fridge it is always advisable to get them at room temperature for baking. They create the best volume and stability.
  • Secondly for any recipe if you are just beating egg whites, make sure the vessel is clean and does not have any traces of egg yolk or fat at all.
Lemon Cake (No Baking Powder, No Baking Soda)

The beating of the Butter & Sugar

Though this is the first step, I am adding it second here as many have asked me the replacement for egg in this recipe which sadly is none. So I have mentioned the key ingredient egg in the first place.

So the first step of the recipe is beating the butter and the sugar. It has to be beaten thoroughly to almost a ribbon stage or when the mixture changes color. This will take around 3-4 minutes but well worth the effort.

Always use room temperature softened butter when you want to cream the butter and sugar together. The butter has to be softened but not melted. There is a difference. You will not get a creamy texture batter with melted butter and you will not able to even cream it. So keep that in mind.

Recipe process of this Lemon Cake

Next you are adding the eggs one at a time and beating each of them slowly until well incorporated. After each addition you would see the eggs adding some volume to the mixture and the mixture getting creamier.

Now we are adding the flour, finely grated lemon zest and vanilla essence. One can skip the vanilla essence if required but at times I can smell the egg and hence I love to add it to mask the smell.

One can skip the vanilla essence if at all. The real flavor comes from Lemon Zest, the outer rind of a lemon. Be sure to take only the yellow part. Do not use the white skin or it will go bitter.

Do not Overmix

When one adds the dry ingredient to the wet do not overmix. What I mean by Overmixing is:

Well many think the more you beat the cake batter the fluffier it is. That is not correct. The beating is done before mixing the wet and the dry. Once both are mixed they react and the leavening agents or in our case the mechanical raising agent here egg starts to work. So it is best to just mix it until the dry ingredient is mixed into the wet and then put in the oven as soon to not release the air and let it further expand during baking. Of course every recipe differs, and it depends.

Always make sure you are running the spatula up to the bottom. At times the dry flour remains and then it will not be an even mix.

I have shared this for the cookoutweek 2018, an annual event where bloggers share summer recipes. This Lemon Cake without Leavening Agent is tangy, light, and airy and hence a perfect treat for summers.

This recipe is adapted from here, with my changes. This cake is very simple and is without any baking powder or baking soda and with just a few ingredients. The original recipe calls for Self-raising flour which has baking powder and salt added to it. I simply used All purpose flour / Maida without any leavening agent.

Lemon Drizzle

I have also drizzled this cake, with a lemon drizzle. That is a syrup made using lemon and sugar. This cake stays fresh for 4-5 days outside (if cold) or in the fridge. I have not frozen this cake, but you definitely can. Just cut into individual portions, and freeze. Try this cake and I am sure you are going to make this again and again.

Lemon Cake (No Baking Powder, No Baking Soda)


I have not changed the recipe at all. I am just adding some descriptive content as why eggs are required, how to cream butter and sugar and what is meant by overmixing etc.

Few more cake recipes on my blog :

4.89 from 9 votes
Lemon Cake (No Baking Powder, No Baking Soda)
Lemon Cake (No Baking Powder, No Baking Soda)
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
55 mins
This Lemon cake without any baking powder or baking soda (i.e. without leavening agent), is very light, spongy, lemony , sweet and Refreshing.
Course: Dessert, Snacks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Bakes, Cake, Kids, Lemon, No Baking Powder, No Baking Soda, No Leavning Agent
Author: Renu Agrawal-Dongre
For the Lemon Sponge
  • 225 gms Softened Unsalted Butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 225 gms Granulated Sugar (or Castor sugar)
  • 225 gms All purpose Flour/Maida
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (Only the yellow part)
  • 1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract
For the Lemon Drizzle
  • Juice of 1.5 lemons
  • 85 gm of Granulated Sugar (or Castor sugar)
  1. Preheat the oven to 170C (fan assisted)/180 C normal.
  2. Prepare a loaf tin (8 x 2.1 inch), by greasing it or lining it with grease proof paper.

  3. Sift the flour in a bowl.
  4. Beat together softened Unsalted Butter and sugar until pale and creamy (3-5 mins).
  5. Add eggs one at a time. Slowly beating after each addition.
  6. Add in the flour, finely grated lemon zest, Vanilla Essence and mix until combined.
  7. Do not over mix.
  8. Add the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and level with the back of the spoon.
  9. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
  10. While the cake is baking prepare a mix of lemon juice and sugar.
  11. In a small bowl add in the sugar and lemon juice.
  12. Mix until the sugar is dissolved.
  13. Once the cake is baked, remove from the oven and keep it on a wire rack.
  14. Immediately poke holes with a toothpick or a skewer.
  15. Drizzle the mixture of lemon juice and sugar, while the cake is still hot.
  16. The lemon juice will be soaked up.
  17. Let the cake cool completely.
  18. Once Cooled, dust it with some icing sugar. (Optional)
  19. Cut and Serve.
Recipe Notes
  • Baking time varies depending on your oven and loaf size.
  • Do keep a close watch on the cake after 40 minutes

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Lemon Cake without Leavening Agent (No Baking Powder, No Baking Soda) - This Lemon cake without any baking powder or baking soda is very light, spongy, lemony, sweet and Refreshing. A perfect treat for all ages.

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58 thoughts on “Lemon Cake (No Baking Powder, No Baking Soda)”

  • I am drooling over your cake. It looks super moist and I loved the texture of the cake. I never made a cake without baking soda or powder. This is a new recipe for me. Thanks for sharing.

  • How soft those slices looks, cant believe that this cake doesnt have both baking powder and baking soda. Absolutely delicious. Wish i have few slices with a cup of coffee for my snacks.

  • I’m drooling over the lemon cake….without baking powder and baking soda sounds interesting …yet the cake looks super soft and moist…Lovely share!!

  • Citrus flavored cakes are my favorites and especially the lemon cake, I love the balance of sweet and sour in it. Looks really soft and delicious.

  • You mentioned that “The rise in this cake comes from beating the eggs properly”, but don’t explain what you mean by beating eggs properly. So, what do you mean? I’m stuck out at a house without transportation for another week and want to make bread, but discovered I don’t have baking powder baking soda or yeast lol. But i do have eggs and almond flour.
    PLEASE explain what you mean, and I’ll get started right away. 🙂

    • I meant that beat the eggs need to beaten properly , i.e. until they are a pale yellow or change colour, say like for 3-4 minutes. Hope that is clear. Thanks.

  • He Renu the cake looks very nice. . Thanks for the recipe…. I want to try it but was wondering if I can bake it with whole wheat flour and if I do will I need to add baking powder and baking soda. It would be really if you can give me some inputs. Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Amit. Yes why you can’t bake, everyone can. I think it will work with whole wheat flour but the rise would be a bit less I think. Do remember to beat the eggs and sugar well. Let me know how it turned out.

  • 5 stars
    My goodness! This cake came out WONDERFULLY! It’s like a light fluffy pound cake. I followed the directions pretty exactly, I only substituted lemonquat (lemon kumquat hybrid) for the lemon so I used a little more zest since the flavor is milder. I also had my husband continue to beat it vigorously the whole time and add the flour as the very last thing and just stirred that in gently with a wooden spoon. Yum! The lemon juice and sugar glaze was perfect! Just delicious!

  • This lemon cake looks super soft and with beautiful crumb.. it’s like pound cake I make that uses only eggs with no other leavening agents for rise.. Love the citrusy flavour here.

  • 5 stars
    Renu, the cake turned out fabulous and it was all gobbled up even before I could get a pic. The flavor from the lemons felt like summer in my mouth !!!!

  • 5 stars
    Was looking for a cake recipe that did not require baking powder as I was completely out of it. So thrilled to have come across your recipe. The cake turned out moist on the inside with a wonderfully crumbly crust and the most perfect amount of lemon flavor (added lemon juice along with the zest). This is a definite people pleaser that will be added to my baking rotation.

  • Hi ,
    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful recipe. Can this cake be prepared without eggs? If so can you Please suggest a replacement for eggs?

    • Hi, Not this one as the rise is from eggs. I am coming up with an egg free lemon version soon. Keep watching this space. Thank You

  • 5 stars
    I made these as cupcakes (180c, 15 mins) and they turned out great! Even without the baking soda they were great, totally bookmarking this recipe 😀

    • Thank You for your feedback. Yes they are good without the baking soda and baking powder. Glad you liked it.

  • 5 stars
    The recipe is very easy to follow. Thankfully this doesnt require baking powder as I couldn’t find any for the past few weeks due to the current lockdown situation. I just did this today and I am so thankful it turned out well even for the 1st try. It’s moist, flavorful and the yellow looks gorgeous! A good change to the usual chocolate/vanilla cakes. However I do find it a bit too sweet for my tastebuds. If I were to cut down on the sugar, does the measurement for everything else remains? 🙂 and what do you mean by do not overmix? As this is my 3rd time baking hehe. Thanks!

    • First thank you so much for your feedback and I am so glad it turned out good for you and you enjoyed it. Yes it turns out flavourful and the beautiful yellow color. Next time if you can please share a pic too, would love to see that :-). You can reduce the sugar to 175-150 grams max but not less. Everything else will remain the same. Also if you are adding the drizzle you can skip that, it cuts the sugar.

      By not overmixing I mean is when you add the dry mix i.e. the flour, one should mix only until the flour is well incorporated or mixed thoroughly. Many think if they mix the cake batter more it will more fluffy, but no the dry and the wet should be just mixed or else the cake becomes hard. The rise here is achieved by beating the eggs. Do let me know if you have any more questions. I have more bread recipes without yeast if you are looking for. Thank You

  • 4 stars
    I had only plain flour. No baking powder or soda because of lockdown shortages. This was the only recipe I could find that I had the ingredients for EXCEPT fresh lemon. I used a splash of jif lemon instead. Quick and easy to make. Still in the oven! I’ve got the drizzle prepared along with skewer and rack. Cake tin size given was wrong but I made half the quantity and put it in a 1lb loaf tin. Full quantity would fit in a 2lb loaf tin which is approximately 8″ X 5″.

    • Hi,
      Thank you for your feedback. I hope you like the cake. What went wrong with the cake tin size, the size I have mentioned (8*2.1 inch) is exactly what you are saying (8″*5″). Or rather the 3 dimensional size is (8.5in x 4.5in x 2.5in) and I have also included the link to amazon for this reason. Just trying to understand what went wrong with the size.

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